Chelsea and Arsenal will resume their rivalry at the Wembley Stadium on May 27 in the FA Cup finals.
The game promises to be a feisty one, and Chelsea legend Pat Nevin can’t help but think about the players Antonio Conte will choose to deploy against the Gunners.
While Willian has played second fiddle to Pedro for much of the season, there’s no denying his quality, and we also have a case of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas.
Pat Nevin wrote in his column in the official Chelsea website: “The furthest we should be projecting forward is Wembley in less than a fortnight. Arsenal have got a bit of form back at last so it will be a contest in the season’s most glamourous domestic game.
“Arsenal are secondary in my thoughts, the real question is which team will Antonio pick? The bench will probably be harder to choose than 10 members of the first team. There is a lot of thought and consideration. JT? He did score this week after all, but what about Ake. It is a big disappointment not to be stripped for a final I would imagine (I was lucky, I always started in my Wembley appearances) instead stuffed in a smart suit uncomfortable on a hot day.
“The gaffer will make those calls but then what about the Pedro or Willian choice? That is a tough one though it pales when you consider how much time will be spent considering the relative merits of starting with Nemanja Matic or Cesc Fabregas. Arsenal’s midfield wouldn’t fancy winning against Kante and Matic in a battle, but it seems set up for Cesc considering the form he is in and that it is against his old club. The size of the pitch at Wembley would suit Cesc’s passing, but might it be better to hold him in reserve for the second half to exploit tiring opponents?
“I suspect we have the right man making those decisions. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench in the semi and coming on to destroy Spurs. Michy coming on to win us the league at West Brom, and even Cesc rising from the bench to score the winner against Watford. Antonio’s substitutions have been superb this season, but they appear to be getting even better as the big calls have to be made at the end of the season. I think I will stop second guessing and just trust in the gaffer.”